According to recent research conducted by YouGov, three quarters of consumers said they would be unlikely to allow financial companies to access their social media information to assess their suitability for financial products. In the online survey, commissioned by Equifax, the online credit information provider, over half of respondents (52%) said they would be angry if financial companies in the UK used information they post on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Equifax believes this new research emphasises the importance of consumers taking a proactive interest in their credit information throughout their life, because this is likely to be used by lenders to assess future credit applications. The company is urging individuals to ensure they know what information is included on their credit report and to make sure it is ‘credit ready’ ahead of making new loan applications.
“First and foremost, consumers need to ensure they are registered on the electoral roll”, explained Lisa Hardstaff, Equifax credit information expert. “Lenders will often use Electoral Roll information to verify a person’s identity – being registered could therefore be regarded positively by lenders as part of the assessment process.
“Of course, how someone manages their existing financial agreements is also important, but what some people don’t realise is that information about old and unused accounts could have a detrimental impact on their ability to get a new loan.”
In a recent Equifax study of consumers’ understanding of their credit score, 41% of respondents thought closing old, unused accounts would have no impact. In reality, lenders are likely to look at the total amount of credit available to the applicant in order to consider whether there are any signs of the applicant taking on too much debt. It can make sense, therefore, ahead of making new credit applications, to close any unused accounts.
“Consumers need to be proactive about their credit information added Lisa Hardstaff. “We believe an individual’s credit report is as important in their day to day life as their driving licence or even passport and should be treated as such. By accessing their credit report online, an individual will be able to see the information lenders can use when assessing their application and this will give them the best chance of gaining access to the credit deals and products they want.”
The Equifax Credit Report is accessible for 30 days free simply by logging onto http://www.equifax.co.uk/Products/credit/credit-report.html. If customers do not cancel before the end of the 30 Day Free Trial, the service will continue at £9.95 per month, giving them unlimited online access to their credit information and weekly alerts on any changes to their credit file. It also includes an online dispute facility to help them correct any errors on their credit file simply and quickly.